Heat and smoke have gripped the North Okanagan, and the City of Vernon is encouraging residents, businesses and visitors to take steps for their health amid the dog days of summer.
Environment Canada has issued a heat warning and special air quality statement for the Okanagan Valley, including Vernon. Over the next few days, the weather agency is forecasting daytime highs between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius with overnight lows near 18. The region is also expected to be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24 to 48 hours.
For those looking for a place to stay cool while escaping the smoke, the city is highlighting a number of indoor public facilities that are available.
Those facilities include:
• Public walking at Kal Tire Place (3445 43rd Ave.)
• Vernon Aquatic and Recreation Centre (3310 37th Ave.)
• Okanagan Regional Library, Vernon branch (2800 30th Ave.)
There are several locations where people can find public access to drinking water. For information and a map of the locations, visit vernon.ca/drinkingwater.
There are also several locations where people can bring their dogs in the Greater Vernon area, including some local beaches. Tourism Vernon has put together a list of the various parks, beaches and trails where dogs can go to also find some shade or splash in the water. A map of these locations is available at tourismvernon.com. On and off-leash areas are noted on the map.
The Okanagan Indian Band Health Department has opened three cooling stations from Aug. 14-17, from noon to 8 p.m. The cooling stations are the New Horizon building, the Bluebird building and the Round Lake/Salmon River building.
Interior Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control recommend taking specific steps to stay cool and hydrated to prevent heat-related illness, including:
• Drink water regularly, before you start to feel thirsty
• Seek shade or cool indoor locations, avoid direct mid-day sun
• Wear loose protective clothing and a hat, sunscreen and UV-protective eyewear
• Plan your outdoor activity before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m., to avoid the most intense sun, and take it slow with plenty of rest breaks
• Never leave people or pets alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise rapidly and become much hotter than the outside temperature
• Cover windows during the day and open them in the evening if you can get a breeze through your home
• Use air conditioning (if available) to take the edge off the heat, but be careful not to over-cool your space
• If you don’t have air conditioning, seek shelter in the coolest room of your home and use a fan
• Regularly check on relatives, friends and neighbours to see how they’re doing; particularly older adults, infants and children, those doing a lot of physical activity or working outside, and those with underlying health conditions
For those planning to spend time outside, the city offers a reminder to check the forecast and be prepared with safety items and plenty of water.